/> Raising Angels: February 2011

Monday, February 28, 2011

A Suggestion for Crayola

I arrived home from school today to find a picture of a quail that Max painted. "Did you paint this picture?" I asked trying to get him to give me some details from his day.


"What color did you paint it?" I asked of the huge brown smudge that made the bird all but unrecognizable.

"CHOCOLATE!" was his enthusiastic response.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Good Eats

Max shuffles into the kitchen, barely awake from his afternoon nap, and holds onto my leg. "Hey buddy," I say as I scoop him up and give him a hug. "Did you have a good nap?"

"Yes. I'm hungry. Can I please have a snack?"

"Sure bud. What would you like?"

"NOT a healthy snack," he lets me know quickly.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Stars in the Making

Mackenzie got to star in a local commercial last week. I didn't get word of this until about an hour before the shoot which was...in my home. I was a bit flabbergasted but could do nothing about it as I was cooking for dinner guests who were scheduled to arrive at the same time as the commercial. Ah, thus is my life ladies and gentlemen. The show must go on.

As you can imagine, the camera and lights attracted the attention of my three guys. Maximilian conned his way into some camera time with the crew. This cut is not in the commercial but it sure is cute. He was posing as a burglar, which I'm pretty sure he has no idea what that even means. When he looks up, he's looking at me, who's telling him to make a mean face. The result is comic gold.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Change of Plans

There are times when God speaks to me in the quiet of my heart. There are also times when I hear him in a seemingly appropriate place like church as well as in the most unspiritual places like kneeling next to the bathtub bathing the kids. And then there are times when God tries like crazy to get to me and I push Him off long enough that He takes action and slaps me upside the head.

Saturday morning began with such a slap.

I went to bed with big plans. I had a Saturday that was virtually free which is a rare occurrence. I planned to get in a long run in the morning and spend the rest of the day cleaning out the boys' cave. The new furniture hasn't arrived yet and I'm dying to get the room in shape before it does. I also had haircuts on the agenda so the boys would be allowed to enter the school today (not really that bad but awfully close). I didn't even have to worry about dinner since we had a dinner invitation for the whole family. It was shaping up to be a very productive day and it hadn't even started.

I was still lying in bed Saturday morning contemplating how badly I wanted to run when the phone rang. Nelson got it and asked me if we had plans today. I quickly went through my list after which he got back on the phone and said, "Yeah we'll do it, 11 o'clock sounds great."

I started moaning and Nelson let me know he would take the kids to the park and I could still go on my run. I hopped up and dressed for my run as the phone rang again. Nelson left the room and I gathered my gear.

I was filling my water bottle when he came in and asked, "You could get in a great run around the park while the kids are playing couldn't you?

"Um, no. I don't think this park lends itself to an eight miler," I joked.

"Hon," he said in his guilty voice, "I've got to take care of something. I'm not going to make it."

"No, no, no, no! I have plans. I told you to say no. I'm not going to get another Saturday in a long time. Please..." I pleaded.

"It's an emergency hon. I've got to do it."

He left the room to make some calls as I pulled out the eggs to feed the kids. I was a bit agitated trying to get together my argument that he had done this and he needed to fix it. I, after all, had plans. I continued to stew as I scrambled the eggs but as I broke them up in the bowl, something inside of me was scrambled right along with them. Truth be told, I was feeling kind of guilty that he was taking them to the park and I was doing something for me. I don't get to do many park outings these days and I'm missing them terribly.

He came back in the kitchen and as he put his arms around me for one of his 'I'm so guilty hugs' I relinquished. "Okay, if you'll take the kids to Sunday school in the morning and let me meet you at mass after my run, I'll take them to the park today."

"Deal," he said rather easily and off we went on our separate ways. The kids and I headed to the park with my niece, nephew and brother-in-law. The park was a few blocks from my brother's house so we called him on the way and invited him to meet us.

We got out of the car with the sun shining gloriously on the angelic heads of my beauties who were totally stoked with the open day and spacious park that lay before them.

We opened the car door, hopped out and cut loose. We played some baseball.
We tossed the football. We threw the frisbee. We(yes, we) slid down the slide.
We followed that by feeding the geese and watching the fish.
And then, as if by some divine design, a train went by. The kids ran to it, waved and I'll be if the conductor didn't blow the whistle. Triumphant indeed!
These two boys sat and watched the whole thing go by without saying a word.

We lingered. We played. We chatted. There was no agenda, no rush, no hurrying. The only thing that dragged us out of the park was the rumbling of those sweet little tummies and the fact that haircuts awaited.

I was in such a good mood I let the kids talk me into a picnic at Sonic, where we chatted and played some more. After haircuts and showers, we walked through the backyard and enjoyed a dinner with friends. And by the end of the day, I loved what God threw at me so much more than what I had planned.

I had unwound. Somewhere between my first moan that morning and sitting in the grass with my baby, my head gave up and my heart took over. Granted, it took God knocking me over the head to get my head to throw in the towel and realize that every once in awhile you have to just let go and be.

Now usually when I get hit over the head, it hurts. Today though, I saw stars and they were beautiful.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Quick Takes

1. I love drama, on the stage...not so much in my life. Since I could speak I have been on stage every chance I could find. I've never been afraid of the spotlight. Taking on a character has always been so fun to me.

When I couldn't act anymore, I directed the plays at our school. I did this for 15 years before I had baby #3 and had to, very tearfully, finally admit I could no longer do it.

When my mom consoled me, she told me not to worry. She was certain I would be directing elementary school plays when my kids reached that age. I laughed.

Currently, I am casting the 4th grade play, Much Ado About Nothing. I am directing again AND it's Shakespeare. I am in heaven. And yes mom, you were right.

2. I spent over 2 hours today working on getting the warranty company to do what they said they would do and replace my microwave, which we've been without for 2 weeks now. Not fun.

3. I spent another hour today on the phone with the insurance company working on getting Max's therapy covered. Again, not fun.

4. The weather here today is absolutely beautiful. While I favor winter weather in winter, I honestly can't complain about the upper 70's we are experiencing because it is gorgeous without the heat and humidity.

5. Max is turning three on Tuesday. I'm thinking if I continue to say this over and over and over, I might actually start to believe it. He's into superheroes and so I'm searching for a Spiderman cake pan if any of you locals have one.

6. One of the teachers at school today asked me questions about running as if I'm an expert on the topic. I still feel like a fake when I answer. However, I'm out there and as I said before, that makes me a runner.

7. We had a pep rally at school yesterday. Back in the day I used to plan those things. Somehow, yesterday sitting in the bleachers among many young children screaming at the top of their lungs, while they high schoolers encouraged them, while the band was playing loud enough to be heard for blocks, I suddenly felt somewhat different about it. My ears were ringing for hours and I found myself worrying about the safety of the participants rather than just sitting back and enjoying the chaos.

Sometimes it stinks to be a parent.

For more Quick Takes go here. Happy weekend!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sometimes It's Easy to be a Superhero

We had the day off school Monday and the boys had some friends over. They came over around 10 and at 11:30 I took them all to get some pizza for lunch. On the way to the restaurant, one of the boys asked, "Mrs. Parris, after we get done eating, do we have to go home?"

"No. I told your dad you can stay until he's done working."

From the back I heard a collective, "Su-weet!"

The boys played awhile and then we had to get in the car again to pick up Max from school.

From the back I heard, "Mrs. Parris, do we have to go home after we pick up Max?"

"No guys, I think you'll be with us until dinner time."

"Man, this is the best day EVER!"

Suddenly I'm thinking, I should do this more often.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Right Where We Want Him

Nelson: "Max, can you go upstairs and tell K that breakfast is ready?"

Max: "Do I open the door and go in?"

Nelson: "No buddy, just knock and tell her breakfast is ready."

Max: "Ok!"

Off he went up the stairs to do just that. He returned a few minutes later to report.

Max: "K is naked Daddy and will be here after she gets dressed." There was a slight pause before he let us know in no uncertain terms, "I don't like naked girls."

Nelson: "That's good son."

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

My Valentine

Nelson and I decided many years ago that in lieu of gifts on Valentine's Day, we would do something together. This to me seemed the most appropriate gift of all.

We started out at local bed and breakfasts, spending a few glorious hours away from everything and everyone but us. Some years it's been much less grand but every bit as wonderful.

This year since we have the Vegas trip coming up, we decided to use that as our big outing (um...yeah, duh). However, we couldn't let the day go by without acknowledging it.

I fed the kids, gave them their Valentines and let them...wait for it...watch a movie on a school night. With the troops in bed and a cousin willing to sit in the quiet, we headed to the nicest restaurant that was within a 5 minute radius from our house.

The evening included a giant pomegranate/blueberry martini for me, a Maker's and ginger for Nelson and the Bavarian fritters he has been craving for weeks. We sat and talked and laughed.

I love that Nelson is still my favorite person to be with. I love that I know him better than anyone else. I love that the thought of time with him still makes my heart skip a beat. And I love that one day a year I am given a great excuse to let him know that.

I hope your Valentine's Day was full of love.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Not Sure What to Think About This

As I was walking out the door this evening, Max asked me, "Mama? When am I going to get married?"

Friday, February 11, 2011

Seven Quick Takes

1. After a busy week, we have a packed weekend ahead. All very good stuff, but stuff is still stuff. Is it bad that I'm already looking forward to summer?

2. I have now experienced first hand that party days at the elementary level are loud and crazy, no matter how much you plan. What I set out to do in the one hour and 45 minutes was to finish an art project we started last Friday (that I thought would take only one hour), distribute Valentines, eat our snacks, watch a little of a movie and I also had another "quick" craft in my back pocket just in case.

We finished the craft from last week...kind of, distributed the Valentines and chowed down on some snacks. What we also managed to do was to totally destroy the classroom with remnants of crafting, be so loud another teacher came and closed our door and be so out of control that the entire class missed the first five minutes of recess.

Live and learn...I hope.

3. The absolute best part of teaching in the elementary school is seeing my own kids during the school day. I pop in the Kindergarten all the time. I see Mackenzie in the hall on the way back from recess and I spy on Aiden on the playground. I've even managed to arrive early enough to eat lunch with each of them on occasion. Totally fun!

4. In the last three weeks we've had to have the washer, cook top and dishwasher repaired. Last week the microwave spontaneously combusted (flames people!). I have been very grateful for that tough decision to purchase those 5 year warranties.

5. This is the first year that I've continued to run through the winter. It's causing some new kinds of injuries and challenges (like not having a group to train with). I'm actually signed up to do a half in DC next month that I fear I will be nowhere ready for but I'm figuring that even if it's horrible, it's better than no exercise at all which is what I've done the past two winters.

6. I had my friend come over last weekend. She gave me all kinds of great ideas about how to bring some order to some largely disorderly sections of my home. Now...if I can only find the time to implement them.

7. Last night I made 4 dozen chocolate chip cookies for the kids' Valentine's parties. Today I made a lemon crème cake and tomorrow I will tackle the carrot cake. None of these sweets are for me but I'm looking forward to making them. It reminds me how much I love baking, even when I don't have time.

Now I'm off to start that busy, wonderful weekend ahead. Thanks Jen for inspiring me to put something on the page.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Some Days You Just Don't Feel Like It

We love Max's therapist. He is a rough and tumble kind of guy who Max adores. Unfortunately, however much he loves his therapist, he does not always love the therapy. Therapy for Max is a tough workout and some days, like all of us, he just doesn't feel like it.

Yesterday while the therapist was getting out his toys, I heard him ask Max, "Are you ready to play?"

"No," said Max rather matter-of-factly. "I want to watch TV."

"You'd rather watch TV than play with me?" asked his therapist. "Come on buddy, let's play."

"I don't want to play," Max reminded him again.

"We'll have fun. Let's play."

"Well," Max tried again, "you could watch TV with me."

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Just Another Day

It's another late night at the House of Parris. Husband is still out, kids are in bed and here I stand; literally stand, in the kitchen. Today I have gotten the kids off to school and headed straight to my moms' prayer group, where we prayed for some serious intentions and caught up just a tad. From there it was a race back to the house to beat the therapist. I hopped in the shower as Max had his workout and then dressed for hero day at school (more on that later). I got ready in time to grade one of the twelve essays sitting in my bag, make Max lunch and head to school. There I taught for the next three hours. Then it was afternoon carpool, homework, and making a meal for two other families. I sat with my wee ones and had a conversation filled dinner (yes, sat for as long as it took me to eat). From there it was a race to clean up the kitchen, shower the boys, have prayers and tuck them all in. I returned downstairs so I could make lasagna for dinner tomorrow night since we're having several guests and I will be leading Little Sisters after school until 5:30. Currently I am staring at the mess that needs to be cleaned up from all that.

Some days I wonder where my time goes. I feel guilty that I didn't get to that project or do research on that thing. I yawn my way through the afternoon session with my fourth graders and hit the Coke machine during recess in search of a little caffeine boost to get me through. I kick myself for not being able to get up early enough to squeeze in a run before the kids wake up.

I would probably ponder all this a little more as I got into bed at night if I wasn't already passed out before my head hit the pillow. Instead, I steal a moment now to capture a day in the life and I pray that tomorrow is a little less busy, a little more restful.

God really spoke to me at mass this weekend regarding this very topic but it was too powerful to record in the ten minutes I'm giving myself to do this, so that too will have to wait until another day. Hopefully, I'll still remember what God said to me when I have the time to write it down.

Doing this has showed me two things: 1) No wonder I can't do all those other "pressing" things and 2) God can still whisper to me in the middle of my life.

Ah, thank God I have that to hold on to.

Friday, February 04, 2011

Something New: Seven Quick Takes

1. In light of the lack of blogging lately, I've decided having a topic given to me by Jen over at Conversion Diary might at least keep me posting once a week. Surely I'll have the time to do more than that...one of these days.

2. Last night a rare thing happened around here. The kids were in bed, Nelson was out and the kitchen was cleaned by 9:30. My mind was whirling with all the things I could be doing when I had the brilliant idea that what I really needed was to sit down, put my feet up and veg out in front of the TV. I never do that.

I was totally psyched. I willed myself not to pick up the computer, carry in my school work or start a late load of laundry. I simply plopped down on the couch, pulled out the foot rest, took a deep breath and turned on the TV. However, try as I may, I could not make the sound work.

Bye, bye peace. I was too frustrated by my plans being foiled to think that I might also enjoy reading a book, taking a long shower or going to bed early. I know there was a lesson for me but I was too agitated to let it sink in.

3. I have a friend coming over in the morning to help me come up with an organizational plan for some places in my house. I feel like a kid on the night before Christmas. I'm so very excited and grateful. I'll let you know how it goes.

4. My neighbors who have two sweet little girls (one of whom just happens to be my goddaughter), welcomed a baby boy into the world this morning and I'm thrilled for them. I was so excited when I got the news this morning that I went into the attic and spent an hour sorting and gathering some baby boy stuff to give them. And I wonder where all my time goes.

5. It's currently pouring down rain and I've got two kids out with friends and I'm watching the other two snuggled up on the couch watching a movie. It's the cutest thing I think I've ever seen.

6. Today was one of those head spinning, hyper-ventilating days. I'm not going to go into it other than to say it's almost over and tomorrow's going to better if it kills me.

7. Last, and certainly not least, I'm Vegas bound baby! Nelson earned his way into the Comcast President's Club this year and won an all inclusive WEEK in none other than Las Vegas.

First let me say that I am so very proud of my husband. Of all the people in his area, which covers Savannah, Charleston, Augusta and several other cities, his boss submitted his name and his name only. He works long, hard hours for this place and he is absolutely the best at what he does (so I'm a bit prejudice but really it's true). I'm so very happy he's finally getting a well-deserved pat on the back.

You rock babe and I'm amazed by you and your many talents.

Second, let me also say, that I - can't - wait!!! I've never been and I love that the time we get to go the whole thing is on good old Uncle Comcast -trips to the spa, cocktail parties, front row show tickets and cash to spend. I can already envision myself passed out on the massage table while someone else is rubbing my stress away. Um...that probably doesn't sound so good, but trust me when I say that when I am in that moment, I won't care what it sounds like to anyone else.

Truth be told a week away with my husband is a thrilling gift to me no matter where we are. I love, love, love that the thought of time with him still makes my heart skip a beat. I love that it doesn't matter if we're in the comfort of our own home or in the crazy city of Vegas, of all the people I could spend time with, he's still my first choice.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Kitchen Lessons

Max was spinning around in the kitchen this morning when he told me, "Mama, when I do this I fall down."

"Well, why do you do that?"

"Because I like to spin!"

In that little moment, in the midst of the business that is command central in my house, I was once again reminded of a life lesson by one of the little ones in my care.

There are so many things that, as an adult, I chicken out of because I fear rejection, pain, hard work, inconvenience, you name it. However, when I buck up and try the "impossible", I almost always surprise myself at how much fun I have (remember that first run?).

It's true what they say. It's better to have love and lost than to never have loved at all.

So this morning, I spun with Max and we thoroughly enjoyed that moment, even after we fell down. In fact, it was so much fun, we got up and did it again. Who knows? Maybe if we do it enough times, we won't fall down.